The West Tyrrhenian Coast in Sicily

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A good starting point to visit the northernmost part of Sicily is Trapani,a lovely port city overlooking flat salt works, which represented in the past its main source of wealth. From here one can easily reach by train or by bus the beautiful Natural Reserve Zingaro, stretching out in the leg of coast between San Vito Lo Capo and Scopello, as well as numerous interesting site like Mozia, Segesta and Selinunte, or the beautiful seaside resorts of Mazara del Vallo and Sciacca. Trapani also offers ferry boat connections with the Egadi islands. The city, with its old town built on a long peninsula stretching out toward west, was first populated by the Carthaginians. Afterward it was conquered by the Romans, Vandals and Arab. It was actually during the Arab occupation that the city lived its golden period. In the Medieval age it became an important port of call along the routes connecting Tunisi, Naples and the reigns of the Angioini and Aragons.

The best period to visit Trapani is Easter, on the occasion of the Procession of the Mysteries and the celebrations of Good Friday, when some life-size wooden statues are carried around the city, representing episodes of the Passion. During the year these statues are kept inside the Church of the Purgatory, the most interesting religious building in town. East of Trapani on the coast lies San Vito Lo Capo, a tiny fisherman village which becomes in summer a crowded tourist resort, thanks to one of the finest sandy beaches of the Tyrrhenian coast, with huge cliffs and indented rocks.

Summertime in San Vito is also characterised by the Cous Cous Fest, an international event dedicated to this very good traditional Arab dish, aiming at the culinary and cultural integration between people.

11 kilometres south east of San Vito Lo Capo lie the north entrance of the Zingaro Natural Riserve. The Reserve can be accessed with a private mean of transport or by boat from San Vito. You can also reach it by a beautiful 3 hours walk from San Vito, through a steep trail winding through forests and wild flowers. The trail offers numerous viewpoints on some dream-like though inaccessible coves. There is a small information centre at the entrance. The trails are all well kept and highlighted.

The south access is located near Scopello, where another information and ticket office welcomes the visitor. Here you can also get a map of the trails and buy some gifts in the small shop selling craftsman articles. Along the trails you will meet numerous coves with clean waters, where you can stop for a quick swim. Given the vicinity of the two entrances, these beaches result quite crowded.

Scopello is a small village which once served the old maze of nets (tonnara) on the coast. Now the tonnara is out of service, but the gate is always open to allow visitors to reach the seaside and swim in one of the most spectacular natural sceneries of Sicily, a small charming bay touched by blue waters and edged by majestic cliffs. Any noisy or big-sized objects such as radios, chairs, beach umbrellas are strictly banned from the place, and thanks to this prohibition the beach is kept in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.

It is also possible to rent one of the old restored lodgings of the fishermen (minimum stay during the summer is one week). The houses can lodge 2 to 6 persons, each with a private bathroom and kitchen. Inside there is no telephone or Tv.

Zingaro Natural Reserve
Free admission for Italian citizens over 65, children of all nations under the age of 10, police corp.


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